One of the Decade’s ‘Best Avant-Garde Films’ Began as a CalArts Thesis

Filmmaker Travis Wilkerson’s (Film/Video MFA 01) CalArts thesis documentary, An Injury to One—about the 1917 lynching of a union organizer—was released on DVD last month by Icarus Films. The film has garnered high critical acclaim, including recently named “one of American independent cinema’s great achievements of the past decade” by the Los Angeles Times.

A former CalArts’ Film Directing faculty member now teaching at University of Colorado, Boulder, Wilkerson’s 2002 hour-long film focuses on one place: Butte, Mont.

From Icarus Films:

An Injury To One provides a corrective—and absolutely compelling—glimpse of a particularly volatile moment in early 20th century American labor history: the rise and fall of Butte, Montana. Specifically, it chronicles the mysterious death of Wobbly organizer Frank Little, a story whose grisly details have taken on a legendary status in the state. Much of the extant evidence is inscribed upon the landscape of Butte and its surroundings. Thus, a connection is drawn between the unsolved murder of Little, and the attempted murder of the town itself.

Last year, the film was chosen as one of the best films of the decade in the Film Comment critics poll, Best Avant-Garde Films & Video 2000-2009. It was also featured in the opening programs at the Museum of Modern Art’s Tomorrowland retrospective of CalArts films.

Known to make films in the tradition of the “third cinema” by “wedding politics to form in an indivisible manner,” Wilkerson has released other films since An Injury, including Accelerated Under-Development: In the Idiom of Santiago Alvarez (2003), Who Killed Cock Robin? (2005) and the National Archive series.

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